So many robe questions!

Greetings venerables :pray:

I have quite a few questions regarding robe wearing, keeping, using etc. to which I couldn’t find specific answers yet.
I realize that any answers are going to vary widely according to tradition, lineage, region etc. but it would be great if I could get a few answers to get a better understanding of these matters.

Also please understand that even though my questions bring up matters of Vinaya, it is not my intention to criticize or question anyone’s Vinaya interpretations.

My questions are:

  1. Are all uttarāsaṅgas and saṅghāṭis the same size (6x9, regardless of how one measures a sugatavidatthi) for all monastics? Is it allowed to trim them or would that constitute ruining a gift given on faith and waisting robe-cloth?
  2. What’s the size of the antaravāsaka? Is it simply another 6x9 robe that is folded to only cover the lower body?
  3. What do monastics wear when sleeping?
  4. Do monastics wear underwear under the antaravāsaka? (I apologize for the sensitive question)
  5. For monastics wearing t-shirts/vests/jackets, are they considered part of the ticīvara (for example the t-shirt constituting the uttarāsaṅga)? Or are they extra?
  6. What exactly is a vassikasāṭikā and how does it differ from one’s usual robes? Why is it supposed to be transferred at the end of the rainy-season?
  7. Do any monastics in cold countries use woolen or fleecy robes? They are allowed, correct?
  8. What’s the best freely available (non-copyrighted) material where various different robe wearing styles are discussed and shown in detail?

I might have many more, but these might suffice for now :sweat_smile:

Thanks to all the venerables, or anyone who might want to help further my understanding :pray:

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This website has all the details for sewing your own Thai-style robes, with reasonable (a bit large?) and adjustable (to the cm!) measurements:

These days in Thailand there are shops that sell monastic equipment. Usually their robes come in complete sets sized according to the upper-robe height (e.g. 2.1 m).

Myself, I wear a shoulder cloth and a rain cloth (and sleep inside an old sleeping bag).

Extra

It’s a simple piece of cloth, the size of a lower robe but without any fancy patterns or double layering to make it easier to dry. The rains cloth cannot be acquired outside of the appropriate time, but it need not be relinquished after the end of the rains (a careful rereading of the Vibangha confirms :joy: :sweat_smile:)

I believe so! Though it’s common to just add sweaters and beanies etc as needed.

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Thank you Venerable! :pray:

from a Theravada bhikkhuni…

not sure how much help I can be because our robe regime consists of five pieces and has other slight variations. But here goes:

Are all uttarāsaṅgas and saṅghāṭis the same size (6x9, regardless of how one measures a sugatavidatthi) for all monastics? Is it allowed to trim them or would that constitute ruining a gift given on faith and waisting robe-cloth?

No, there is a variation in size, the correct size can be determined by holding the top of your robe above your head and measuring to the feet. The 6 x 9 measurement isn’t used in practice in the Theravada world because of a bad interpretation of the commentary, which uses carpentry measurements from the commentary to the kutikara sanghadisesa rule to measure cloth, leading to a huge measurement. Also noting 6 x 9 is the Max size, I.e. for giants.

Yes, you can trim them (I know short nuns who do), but if you trim too much it will wreck the paddyfield pattern & when you are in a group of people who all look the same, minor differences can stand out like a sore thumb. Personally I think making a shorter one from scratch would be the more aesthetic option.

It’s not wasting robe cloth if it works, but “think twice, cut once” holds good? I would rather never cut anything that is already made up, but that is practical and not vinaya. Also, they should still be worn in such a manner that they finish at least 4 fingerbreadths below the knee (according to commentary).

It’s not in the vinaya, this is my own calculation, but in practical terms around 3 x 6 [hattha] (120cm x 240cm) max is reasonable. Compare 2.5 x 6 [hattha] max for the bathing cloth in vinaya.

Cmy says it should finish 8 fingerbreadths below the knee; the basic point is that it covers your knees fully while sitting and standing etc. Normally the Theravada one is mid-shin.

I wear my sankacchika and anataravasaka. I tend to use my sanghati as a shawl because it is warm & in summer I will pile on both uttarasanga and sanghati as sheets.

Nuns will often determine their jacket as sankacchika (where five robes not three), or alternatively, there is a Thai-style one-shoulder under jacket thing that nuns sometimes determine as sankacchika. Personally, I determine my actual sankacchika (a flat piece of cloth) as my sankacchika, but I am in the absolute minority.

For monks, these are not to be worn according to the khandakas, as they are “kancuka”, which is a type of lay clothing. But keeping them as extra is basically universal in cold-climate areas.

I stayed in a place where it snowed; we wore cotton and just layered stuff underneath. Decent fabrics are actually really hard to find in Australia, I doubt I would have gotten permission to spend a few hundred dollars on a proper woolen one. The Tibetans just wear wool, they normally buy them in India?

These days my robes are made out of heavier repurposed fabric including flannelette, which as an EXCELLENT DECISION for life outside of the tropics.

In addition to what Bhante Khemarato has stated, in Thailand, there is a bit of a difference with how these are dyed as well, as sometimes they are redder because they were dyed with clay not jackfruit? (no firsthand experience). But there is no difference with synthetic dyes.

Nuns have a slightly different bathing cloth regime, as ours is the cloth which is worn when bathing in public (also used by laypeople in South and Southeast Asia) & is a permanent requirement. I don’t normally bathe in public so the main reason I use mine is because I’m washing my lower robe.

I think you kind of need to ask a real person, ideally someone who is experienced and has stayed in many places. Youtube has video (search Buddhist robe), but until you see it in real life, it is not possible to truly understand, as it is about “technique” as much as anything & minor variations in where the roll sits can change things.

I know 5 ish main styles (Thai forest, Burmese, Thai “hom gone” (?spelling), Sri Lankan, Chinese). Even within the Thai forest tradition, there are still about 3 minor variants on the lower robe, for example. Also, even to fold the sanghati is an art that is not in books.

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Do you mean is the sanghati usually the same size as the uttarasanga? Mine is pretty much, for the practical reason that I might want to double them up and roll them. Though my sanghati is so thick that I don’t know if this would be possible.

Making robes recently I was playing around with the idea that they should be proportional. ie to use the length of ones own arm (elbow to wrist) as the span. For a lower robe and bathing cloth this worked quite nicely with regards to the sugata span.
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Depends on the weather. In winter I will sleep with my monastic jacket and my bathing cloth. In Summer heatwaves this is too warm and I have smaller thai style sankacchika. For inbetween weather I might wear a t-shirt.
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Most of the nuns I know do.

I have 3 jackets. One of thick synthetic cloth which I determine as my sankacchika in winter (Vesak–Kathina). We can’t wear it here in summer as we need to wear cotton for bushfire safety so I determine it as requisite cloth after kathina and determine a cotton jacket for summer. Then I have an extra very tatty jacket which is requisite cloth which I use for work. I will layer these up, but I also have thermals etc for winter.

A friend of mine’s mother sewed a sanghati which was one layer cotton, one layer wool suiting for a monk in New Zealand. It was apparently super heavy but very warm. I have a sanghati made of broadcloth which is totally warm enough and 2.2kg.

There are some pages in the vinayamukha vol 2 page 29 onwards has some different ideas about robe wearing and how it works depending on how you size your robes.

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Thank you Ayya, very informative :pray:

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Thank you Venerable, I appreciate it :pray:

You’ll find my answers below, but I also have a question for you, @anon72511327! What’s sparking your curiosity? :slight_smile:

Indeed! :laughing:

  1. My upper robe and outer robe are different sizes. My outer robe is about one foot wider and one foot taller than my upper robe. Just how it came :man_shrugging:t5:

  2. My lower robe is about half the size of my upper robe. It really couldn’t be worn as an upper robe, but you can fold your upper robe and wear it as a lower robe if you needed to.

  3. For sleeping, it depends on the climate and where I am. If it’s cold, a thermal top and a thermal bottom only. If it’s hot, maybe no clothing. If it’s temperate, maybe just my lower robe.

  4. I usually don’t wear anything under my lower robe, except in the winter when I’m virtually inseparable from thermal leggings. (I grew up in the tropics, so I tend to run cold).

  5. T-shirts, sweaters, etc. are extra. I have a winter jacket, a sweater, and thermal tops.

  6. Re: rains-cloth… What Bhante Khemarato said above :slight_smile:

  7. I know some monks who do have woolen robes, but I haven’t been so fortunate yet (or had the motivation to do so myself)

  8. As for online resources: that I don’t know, sorry!

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Thank you Bhante! Very helpful :pray:

I’m trying to learn as much as possible about monastic life in preparation for any possible future ordination.
Thank you for your interest :pray:

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Two more questions! :sweat_smile:

  1. I heard that the antaravāsaka should reach maximum 8 fingers below the knee and if it reaches lower than that it needs to be pulled up higher.
    Is this rule found in the Vinaya?

  2. In the Cīvarakkhandhaka the Buddha has Ananda make a robe resembling the fields of Magadha which is where the traditional robe pattern comes from.
    But the rule only mentions that the robe should be “made of pieces”, and even considering the narrative section above it doesn’t really sound like it should be made of exactly those pieces?
    Also the Kathinakkhandhaka mentions that the robe-making procedure is valid if the robe has “five or more cut sections with panels”.
    So would it be allowable to make a robe by simply stitching together 5 random pieces of cloth, without following any particular patterns?

Thank you :pray:

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Most problems I have seen have been around robes being too short, it should be at least (minimum) 8 fingerbreadths below.

But if you look at some art e.g. from Mathura, we see robe lengths that are above the ankle, so this is also recorded.

Re: stitching together five pieces of cloth at random. Given that there is literally over a thousand years of interpretation history which has basically said “no you shouldn’t” and zero interpretation history that says you should, I would say that you shouldn’t. The 5 cut sections are the vertical panels.

When you ordain, just follow exactly what your robe making supervisor or teacher tells you to do (unless that involves actually using the Thai kheup measure as the sugatavidatthi), it will all make sense when you actually have the cloth in your hands. Robe making looks hard but it is not really hard.

If you want to get some skills before that, you could make sure that you know sewing machine basics like tension and threading the bobbin etc?

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Thank you Ayya :pray:

Just to be clear, I’m not trying to make a robe. :sweat_smile:
It sounds like a fun project, but for the moment I’m limiting myself to learning theoretically what is generally considered allowable.
Your answer helped me with that :pray:

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With regards to lower robe length, I haven’t been able to find what your refer to in the actual vinaya.
The BMC mentions specific lengths from the sub commentaries.
The best practical explanation I have found is in Luang Por Baen’s The Way Forward (page 77). You might like this book as it gives a (NE Thai) traditional approach to requisites.
He says

Neat and Even - 13 Nov 1981

…Parimandalam means putting the sabong on so the lower edge is even with the middle of the shins. If it is too low then walking isn’t easy going. Sometimes while walking you have to pull your robe up, which isn’t so beautiful. If it is higher than the middle of the shins then when walking uphill or taking a step… Let’s just say it’s not so good. Therefore, put your robe on in the way of parimandalam by wearing it evenly around the shins and calves.

If the robe is too long I find it makes a horrible thwack thwack sound when you walk, which I thought he mentioned in this talk, but it’s not there. Must just be my pet peeve!

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